APM's best tips on finding a great job if you're living with multiple sclerosis

Are you living with MS and want to work?

In this guide, you’ll find helpful information about finding a job when you have multiple sclerosis and how to access support if you need it.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system. The immune system eats at the protective coverings around the nerves causing scar tissue to form. This can interfere with signals that the brain sends to the rest of the body.

MS affects each individual differently and it is difficult to predict how the condition will progress. For some people, symptoms may not progress for many years. For others, symptoms may progress rapidly over the course of weeks or months.

How does multiple sclerosis affect your ability to work?

People who live with multiple sclerosis may experience a range of issues which affect their ability to work such as fatigue, weakness, vision impairment, speech impairment, cognitive impairment and heat sensitivity.

MS is a complex and unpredictable condition. No two people with MS have the same experience and symptoms can be wide ranging.

Some people may have mild symptoms such as numbness or blurred vision while others may experience severe symptoms such as vision loss or mobility issues.

Some people may experience periods of remission where their symptoms reduce or disappear. For others, symptoms may worsen progressively and steadily.

MS symptoms that may affect a person’s ability to perform work tasks could include:

  • Motor control and mobility difficulties
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Heat sensitivity
  • Cognitive difficulties such as reduced memory and difficulty concentrating
  • Speech impairment
  • Vision impairment
  • Bladder and bowel control

Can you still work with multiple sclerosis?

Many people with MS still continue to work in their same role with appropriate workplace modifications. Others decide to leave their job, undergo a career change or find a new role which suits their capabilities.

No two people with MS have the same experience. The onset and progress of MS symptoms are different for each person and so is their ability to perform job tasks.

For many people, working is important for their confidence, sense of purpose and independence. A flexible and supportive workplace can enable you to continue to experience the benefits of work.

In order to keep working, your job tasks may need reviewing to be more manageable. For example, reducing physically intensive tasks if fatigue and mobility are an issue. Introducing assistive equipment may also help you to maintain independence in your role.

Australian employers may be eligible for funding from the Government to make workplace modifications that help you do your job well.

What jobs are suitable for someone with MS?

People with MS work in a wide range of job roles and industries. The types of jobs that are suitable will vary from person to person, depending on their symptoms, skills and experience.

Before you start looking for job opportunities, it is helpful to do a self assessment. This involves listing your symptoms and how they impact your ability to perform certain tasks. Also think about your unique set of skills, abilities, experience and personal characteristics.

Doing a self assessment can help you figure out which types of jobs which might be appropriate for you. Speaking to an Employment Consultant from APM may help you identify jobs that you may have not considered before.

An Employment Consultant may also be able to suggest modifications and assistive technologies for jobs you may have thought were not an option.

For some roles, you may be able to transfer the skills and knowledge from previous jobs you have had. For example, if you previously worked in the construction trade, you may be able to transfer your knowledge of the industry to an administrative or consulting role.

Remote work – or working from home – is becoming more common and can offer greater flexibility than office based jobs. Examples include copywriting, transcription, translating and online tutoring.

Finding a job when you have multiple sclerosis

Job opportunities can be found in many places, including online employment websites such as JobSearch, SEEK and Indeed. You may also find job openings on specific company websites under a 'work with us' or careers section.

Not all jobs are advertised. You may be able to find job opportunities by talking with people you know or using a networking website like LinkedIn. You may also find job opportunities by approaching a company you want to work for directly.

Find out more about finding job opportunities by reading APM’s guide on how to find a job.

Is MS classed as a disability?

If you are living with multiple sclerosis and want to find work, you could be eligible for Disability Employment Services, a government funded program which helps people with injury, illness or disability find and keep a job.

At APM, we believe everyone has the right to enjoy the benefits of work in a safe and supportive environment.

Whether you are hoping to return to the workforce, change careers or find a new employer, APM can help with finding a job when you have multiple sclerosis.

MS is one of our supported conditions at APM and as Australia’s largest provider of Disability Employment Services, we have the tools and experience to help you find meaningful work and feel confident in your new role.

When you register with us, a dedicated Employment Consultant can help you with:

  • Identifying job types that are a good fit for you
  • Finding suitable job opportunities
  • Writing resumes and job applications
  • Preparing for job interviews
  • Accessing mental health support
  • Accessing funding for any required workplace modifications
  • Post-placement support so you feel confident in your new role

Managing in the workplace with MS

Workplace modifications and assistive technologies can help you feel confident and empowered to perform well in your job.

APM can help with assessing your workplace and accessing funding for appropriate workplace modifications.

Just as symptoms vary from person to person with MS, workplace modifications will differ depending on a person’s unique needs. Job duties and symptoms should be reviewed periodically to identify if further adjustments need to be made.

Examples of workplace modifications include:

  • Accommodating for a personal attendant or service animal
  • Accessible facilities for mobility aids
  • Allowing longer or more frequent breaks
  • Working from home
  • Ergonomic equipment such as an adjustable desk
  • Adjusting job roles and responsibilities such as reducing physically intense tasks
  • Self-paced workload
  • Reducing distractions in the workplace
  • Using memory aids or schedulers
  • Providing written instructions instead of or in addition to verbal instructions
  • Access to air conditioners or fans at the workstation

When should you stop working with MS?

Deciding whether to keep working, reduce your workload or stop altogether is a personal decision. While leaving work altogether may be the right decision for some people, it is not the only option.

Some people are able to maintain their current role by introducing workplace adjustments and assistive technologies. Part time or casual work may be an option if a full time schedule is too much.

For people who can no longer continue in their current role, it does not necessarily mean they have to stop working altogether. They may be able to transfer their skills to a more suitable role or change careers.

If you are finding it difficult in your current role because of your symptoms or are worried about losing your job, support is available.

At APM, we help people like you find solutions so that you can keep working with confidence.

Are you living with MS and want to work? APM can help.

Finding a job when you have multiple sclerosis and keeping up with the demands of the workplace can be challenging. But if you want to work, we believe there are job roles and supportive workplaces out there where you can thrive.

At APM, we have seen first hand the life changing benefits that working can bring. Our large network of connections and resources means we are well equipped to start finding job opportunities that are right for you.

Our services don’t stop at getting you a job. We’ll also be there to offer ongoing support in your new role so that you can feel confident and in control at work.

Register for Disability Employment Services with APM today and let’s get to work.